Defining a strategy against coastal degradation in Andalusia

Building on the expertise gathered over the past 10 years by the research team at ETC-UMA on environmental protection and cooperation, a meeting of Andalusian and other Spanish regional institutions involved in conservation and protection was held in March 2021 to exchange experiences and join forces towards better protection and management of the scarce natural coastal areas in Malaga, where most of the coast is developed.

With the objective of gathering and giving visibility to the efforts of local and regional agents like the Association ProDunas in Marbella, local administrations, and the University of Malaga, the ETC-UMA has launched a collaborative process, coordinated by David Rodriguez Rodriguez, Senior Researcher on Biodiversity Conservation and Management, to further involve key players in a precautionary approach aiming at establishing proper protection measures for the few natural ecosystems present along the coast.

Dania Abdul Malak, Director of ETC-UMA, believes that “the Mediterranean, and Malaga is a good example of this, is facing a huge challenge nowadays; the population movements towards coastal areas and the increasing impacts of urbanization together with climate changes are making our coasts and people very vulnerable, a situation that will worsen if we do not take appropriate measures starting today.  The inadequate concrete-based design of our coasts are not the solution – on the contrary, it can exacerbate the impacts of increasing sea level and temperature rises and the recurring floods and windy storms caused by extreme events. From ETC-UMA, we want to prove that a smarter protection and use of our natural ecosystems in place – including restoring key areas where needed – can in fact act as natural defences and nature-based solutions to the climate and biodiversity crises we are facing today”.

This call for collaboration among public institutions and civil society organizations is the first step in a series of future ETC-UMA actions at local level to strengthen partnerships and protection measures at various geographical scales. To this end,  good governance examples whereby several areas along the coast have achieved effective protection and lessons learnt in the restoration and re-naturalization of key areas for biodiversity and ecosystem functions will be collected and discussed to seek their transferability to similar regions in need.

This initiative is linked to the recent report published by the Spanish Ministry of Environment (MITECO) to help build a Strategy for a National Plan to protect the coast which is showing worrying signs for the region. The consultation process opened by MITECO for protection strategies in Cadiz, Malaga and Almería is still open until 31 May 2021 and can be accessed here.

More information (in Spanish):

Andalusia Case studies summary

Video ETC-UMA meeting – 12 March 2021

Interview with Dania Abdul Malak, Director ETC-UMA on RTV Marbella (minutes 1:40-12:30): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oXv3igBhOzk

Related ETC-UMA work: 

Coastal urbanization in the Western Mediterranean ecoregion: http://www.etc.uma.es/med-iamer/